The O’s test home improvements against in-form Cambridge

For the first time in a while, the O’s will be approaching a home match with real confidence after our rampant first half display on Boxing Day against Crawley Town. After four defeats in a row at home, we have now recorded back-to-back victories at Brisbane Road.

Despite a nervy finish against Crawley, we were good value for the 3-2 win, which started with a goal for Sam Dalby on his full league debut, just 10 days after his 17th birthday. Dalby, who is expected to lead the line against Cambridge United, has been described by team-mate Michael Collins as a ‘special talent’.

However, a fourth home league win of the season against in-form Cambridge will be much harder to come by. Shaun Derry’s side have won their last five league matches, scoring 13 times in the process. They haven’t lost away from the Abbey Stadium since a 2-1 defeat to Plymouth Argyle on September 10.

In fact, since collecting just a point from their first four away matches, they have picked up 19 from a possible 21 points. The U’s will be targeting another away victory against an Orient side that is still just three points above the League Two relegation zone. Just three weeks ago, they travelled to a Hartlepool United who were four points above the bottom two and ran riot by five goals to nil.

This looks set to be another goal-laden affair, as only Morecambe, Stevenage and Doncaster Rovers have played in a higher percentage of games with over 2.5 goals. The U’s may have failed to score on only three occasions away from the Abbey Stadium, but the O’s will be ready for them on New Year’s Eve.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Leyton Orient 3.00 | Draw 3.15 | Cambridge 2.25

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Over 2.5 goals @ 2.10
  • Both teams to score @ 1.87

Premier League – Week 18

Eight games in the Premiership on Boxing Day with some great attendances and some post Christmas cheer for some teams.

Lunchtime kick off saw Watford and Crystal Palace eek out a 1-1 draw as Cabaye opened the scoring for the Palace in the first half. Cabaye could have notched at least one more goal during the afternoon and he was head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch in Sam Allardyce’s first match back in the premiership since his rather sad tenure as the England manager. A scintillating performance from the Palace man but it still wasn’t enough to win the game as Troy Deeney equalized in the 71st minute from the penalty spot, a personal landmark from Deeney as this was his 100th goal for the club joining a very elite Watford group as he became only the fifth player to score 100 goals for the club. In the end Watford were in the ascendancy with Troy Deeney all over the pitch, it’s amazing what a little bit of confidence can do to a player but no breakthrough came for either side and a 1-1 draw was fair enough to both teams with lots of huff and puff but not too many houses or Christmas trees being blown away.

Arsenal kept the pressure on Chelsea but had to rely on Olivier Giroud 86th minute winner against a dogged and determined West Brom. The Albion seem to be really hard to breakdown these days thanks to Tony Pulis defensive ethics and mid table seems to be where they are going to be for the remainder of the season on this form. For Giroud this was his first start of the season and he looked in good form and so he should with so little pitch time under his belt. He is a player who should be starting every game so it would be no surprise if he walks off into the Emirates sunset if not in the January transfer window then possibly in the summer. The guy is too good to be keeping the subs bench warm all season.

Burnley welcomed a sloppy win by a solitary Andre Gray goal after a mistake by Middlesbrough goalkeeper Victor Valdes allowing the ball to slip away from him and trickle into an empty net. This was enough of a Christmas present to give the clarets all three points as Middlesbrough did little to suggest they could get back on even terms although eleven bookings from referee Craig Pawson broke up the game so frequently it made the whole encounter rather a drab affair.

The Chelsea rollercoaster rattles on and on. The victims at the end of the blues sword this time were Bournemouth although the south coast battlers again put in a plucky performance and played their part in an enjoyable encounter. 3-0 was the score line although Bournemouth fans would say they deserved better than that except Chelsea are dismissing everything in their path at present like matchsticks in a tornado. Goals from Pedro in the first half who again had a fine game and Hazard with a penalty just after the break had the Blues purring and an own goal from Cook after some more fine work from Pedro put the gloss on the final score.

Leicester’s woes continue as they lost at home against Everton who hadn’t won away from home since September when they beat Sunderland, mind you every team looks likely to win away at Sunderland this season so the Leicester win was a much needed fillip for the Merseysiders. The current champions are nestling a little to close to comfort to the relegation zone as goals from Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku was enough to propel Everton back up to seventh. Surely Leicester can’t go down but they need to be careful particularly as they are still heavily involved in the Champions League. To coin a pun they mustn’t take their eye off the ball but the forward line is misfiring and Ranieri just needs to be careful. They should survive as there are much worse teams whose only shots are by shooting themselves in the foot and we are talking Sunderland with no money, Swansea with no manager and Hull with no hope. I fully expect these three to capitulate and return to the Championship by the end of the season. If any one of these three survive it will be a bit of a Houdini act as the only way I can see savior for any of them is if one of the three or four teams above them commits Hari Kari on the playing field and endures a dreadful run from now until May.

Talking of which Sunderland left it late to capitulate against a Man Utd team on a bit of a roll at the moment at Old Trafford. Despite going down 3-1 the score was only 1-0 until the 82nd minute when super Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic got in on the act yet again to put the result beyond doubt before a sweet finish from Henrikh Mkhitaryan that had United boss Jose Mourinho in raptures after the match. Borrini scored a consolation for the Black Cats in injury time but too little too late.

Swansea and Hull played Father Christmas a day late on Boxing Day but lets be fair neither team could beat the bearded wonder if he turned up with half a dozen helpers and a couple of reindeer. Swansea were dismal on the way to a 4-1 home defeat by a very thankful West Ham whilst Hull dished out presents galore at the back thanks to a 3-0 home defeat by Manchester City. Both Swansea and Hull’s requests for a solid back four from Father Christmas obviously fell on deaf ears by theses performances.

Tuesday’s lone Premiership game saw Liverpool reduce Chelsea’s lead at the top and sit behind them in second with a 4-1 victory against Stoke. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the reds and it all looked promising for Stoke when they took the lead after 12 minutes from a John Walters goal. Liverpool did look disjointed at times in defense particularly in the first half but were still too good for the red and whites as goals from LLalana and Firmino before the break, an Imbula own goal and a welcome goal for Daniel Sturridge after the break settled matters. Still concerns for Klopp in the left back spot and in the goalkeepers position and I expect these areas to be dealt with in the transfer window.

In Wednesday’s game Southampton gave a very insipid and uninspiring performance on their way to a 4-1 home defeat by Tottenham helped in part by Nathan Redmond’s 57th minute dismissal for the Saints. Two goals from Dele Ali helped put the Saints to bed and dream of better match days. Even Harry Kane missed a penalty that went sailing over the bar and landed somewhere close to Lapland.


“Main photo:  Vlad1988/ Shutterstock.com”

The O’s target Crawley’s leaky away defence at Brisbane Road

The O’s are hovering just above the League Two relegation zone after last week’s 1-0 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park.

Our seventh defeat in 10 league matches means we are out of the bottom two on goal difference only. Despite the optimism surrounding the sacking of Alberto Cavasin and the appointment of his successor, we have managed just two goals in three matches under Andy Edwards, including a scrappy Jay Simpson effort which came with Accrington Stanley down to 10 men.

On Boxing Day, we take on a rejuvenated Crawley Town side at Brisbane Road. A few weeks ago, after Crawley’s 5-0 hammering at Yeovil Town, this match was targeted as a favourable festive fixture. However, Dermot Drummy’s side have since beaten Crewe Alexandra and Newport County to climb from 16th to just two points off the play-off places in 11th.

The good news is that no team has conceded more away league goals than Crawley, with 22 at an average of exactly two a game. Orient to score over 1.5 goals is priced at 1.96 on EnergyBet.

Faithful followers of the O’s will know that we have had trouble scoring goals at home, with just seven in 11 matches so far. In fact, we have only scored in both halves at home once all season, which came against Stevenage in mid-August.

Let’s get behind the boys and hope for a rare Brisbane Road goal-fest on Boxing Day. After all, Crawley’s 11 away outings have featured 34 goals at an average of 3.09 per match.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Leyton Orient 2.00 | Draw 3.40 | Crawley 3.40

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Over 2.5 goals @ 1.85
  • Orient to score over 1.5 goals @ 1.96

Villa brewing towards Championship play-off push

Villa go into their first ever Midlands derby with Burton Albion in the league in buoyant mood after recording just a second away league victory of the season at Queens Park Rangers.

Jonathan Kodjia bounced back from missing a first-half penalty to send a powerful shot past R’s keeper Alex Smithies. The Ivorian forward, who has seven goals in his last 11 league appearances, is 2.03 on EnergyBet to score at any time against Burton.

The three points kept us in 13th in the Championship, six points off Sheffield Wednesday in the final promotion place. However, Boxing Day represents a good chance for us to move up a couple of spots as 11th placed Preston take on in-form Leeds, and Norwich in 10th face home specialists Reading.

Meanwhile, we have a prime opportunity to record a fifth home league win in a row against 21st placed Burton, who have yet to win away from the Pirelli Stadium. Only basement boys Rotherham and free-falling Norwich have conceded more than the 21 goals Burton have shipped on the road.

Outside of the bottom three, only Ipswich and QPR have managed fewer league goals than the Brewers, who will be feeling less than confident about breaching a much-improved Villa rear-guard. Only Derby County and second placed Brighton have conceded fewer home goals than Bruce’s side.

After scoring just twice in the last four league matches, the Villa Park faithful will be crying out for goals over the festive period. Jordan Ayew, Gabby Agbonlahor, Ross McCormack and Rudy Gestede will be competing to start in the front three alongside Kodjia and Albert Adomah.

The last time we went into a home match against the 21st placed side, we produced a dominant display to beat Cardiff City 3-1. Get on Villa to put on another three-goal showing at 2.90 on EnergyBet.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Villa 1.74 | Draw 3.35 | Burton 5.10

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Kodjia to score anytime @ 2.03
  • Villa to score over 2.0 goals @ 2.90

 

Round 3 – Confident but Clueless

Round 3 of EnergyBet’s AVFC Gift Wrap Challenge should have been easier for our elf substitutes. It was only an official Aston Villa FC flag – flat and easy to wrap… you’d think! Anyway, Gabriel, Alan and Ashley certainly attacked with confidence this time, but where the results any prettier?

Gabriel Agbonlahor went for flat out speed, whereas Alan Hutton and Ashley Westwood showed a little more finesse. Speed may have won, but we’re not entirely convinced that Gabriel’s effort will make it past the North Pole Quality Control Department!

Grab a mince pie and check out the video, meanwhile we’ll get the final part of the EnergyBet AVFC Gift Wrap Challenge ready.

Handling Santa’s Balls

Have you ever tried to gift wrap a football? It’s trickier than it sounds, and if you don’t believe us, just watch what happened when EnergyBet got Villa players Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alan Hutton and Ashley Westwood to wrap some official AVFC balls for Santa! All the EnergyBet elves were taking a lunch break, so our three brave players were left out in the snow, to their own devices.

The results were, well… Maybe Gabriel, Alan and Ashley would do better sticking to kicking balls rather than wrapping them, and Ashley better hope Santa doesn’t see this video, or he might end up on the ‘naughty list’ for messing with Gabriel’s football.

Enjoy the video and keep an eye out for the next instalment of the EnergyBet AVFC Gift Wrap Challenge.

Villa search for goals against Holloway’s Hoops

“We got exactly what we deserved from the game – nothing.” That was Steve Bruce’s assessment of our 2-0 defeat at Norwich, the second away match in a row in which we have lost without scoring.

While Bruce has certainly improved our fortunes at Villa Park, our ability to trouble opposition on the road is becoming something of a concern ahead of Sunday’s high noon visit to Queens Park Rangers.

Our only away victory in the Championship came in October at Reading, which featured two of our six goals away from home. Only two of the 11 matches (18%) have featured over 2.5 goals, so the smart money for Sunday would be on under 2.5 goals which is 1.60 on EnergyBet.

Bruce is expected to recall Albert Adomah in place of Gabby Agbonlahor for the match at Loftus Road. The Ghanaian winger was a surprise omission from the starting line up at Carrow Road on Tuesday. Big money signing Ross McCormack could also be in line for a first league start since 5 November.

Despite the disappointing display in East Anglia, we have an opportunity to bounce back against a QPR side that has managed just 10 goals in 11 home matches. The Hoops are also on a run of four consecutive league defeats, which included a 1-0 defeat against basement boys Rotherham United.

We have managed to score first in five of our away matches this season. If we can repeat the trick against Ian Holloway’s side, we can go on to claim the three points we need ahead of the Midlands derby with Burton Albion on Boxing Day.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

QPR 3.35 | Draw 3.20 | Villa 2.19

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.60
  • Villa to score first @ 1.74

 

Premier League – week 16

Tuesday 13th – Wednesday 14th December 2016

Tuesday 13th December

Bournemouth Shine: Bournemouth 1 – 0 Leicester City

It was a great day for the home side at the Vitality Stadium, as Bournemouth defeated the defending champions, leaving them in 8th – their highest ever Premier League position. The only goal of the match came from Pugh, in the 34th minute of a first-half in which the home side dominated, with 70% possession. The Foxes rallied in the second-half, but couldn’t dent Bournemouth’s robust defence. Ranieri’s side continued to languish at a disappointing 14th.

Toffees Too Sticky for Gunners: Everton 2 – 1 Arsenal

The Toffees thwarted the Gunners’ attempt to make the top of the table, at Goodison Park. It was Arsenal who started the scoring, with a Sánchez goal at the 20’ mark, but that was where it stopped as the Gunners failed to take advantage of an initially struggling home side. Everton, supported by an enthusiastic home crowd, found their drive and Coleman equalised in the 44th minute, and Williams sealed the deal in the 86th. Jagielka saw a red card in the 3rd minute of extra time, but nothing could dent the relief that must have been felt by Everton boss Koeman, given his side’s single win over the ten previous Premier League matches.

Wednesday 14th December

Reds Run Rings around Boro: Middlesbrough 0 – 3 Liverpool

The Reds found their mojo again in a dramatic win at Riverside Stadium, defeating Boro with conviction. Adam Lallana was clearly ‘man of the match,’ scoring twice against a progressively more and more outclassed Boro. Origi also added to the Liverpool tally in a match that saw Liverpool climb to second in the table and Middlesbrough drop to 17th, leaving them just above the relegation zone. Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka was pragmatic about his side’s performance, but must be sweating and needs to do something to sharpen his front end.

Blues Confirm their Lead: Sunderland 0 – 1 Chelsea

Chelsea cemented their league lead, moving 6 points clear of Liverpool, after defeating a plucky Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. The only goal came from Fàbregas in the 40th minute, but the match was entertaining, with a spirited defence from the home side, including Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford repeatedly denying the visitors a chance to claim a bigger victory. The Black Cats remained at the bottom of the league, but the game proved that they do have serious talent and retain the potential to take on the best.

Hammers Hit the Clarets: West Ham United 1 – 0 Burnley

The Hammers clinched a victory over visiting Burnley at the London Stadium, thanks to a goal by Noble in first-half stoppage time. West Ham striker Andy Carroll proved his worth during the match and Pedro Obiang also hit the woodwork and Aaron Cresswell was frustrated by Burnley defender Matt Lowton. Burnley fought back in the second-half, with both Scott Arfield and Sam Vokes coming close to scoring, but it was to no avail, and the match ended seeing Burnley remain in 13th and West Ham move up to 15th.

Last Minute Victory for United: Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Manchester United

It looked like United were going to be held to a 1-1 draw by Palace at Selhurst Park, after McArthur had scored for the home side and Pogba for the visitors but then, just two minutes from the final whistle, Ibrahimovic took advantage of Paul Pogba’s pass and found his target. Referee Craig Pawson caused consternation on both sides when he appeared to ignore two handballs, and United’s Marcos Rojo was sailing close to the wind with an overly aggressive tackle against Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. But overall Mourinho will be happy with his side’s performance, especially the way Ibrahimovic and Pogba worked in unison. The match left United still sitting in 6th and Crystal Palace fell to a dangerous 16th.

City Give it Some Welly: Manchester City 2 – 0 Watford

City defeated Watford at the Etihad Stadium as they displayed more determination than style, to win with goals from Zabaleta and Silva. The Hornets, whilst not falling apart, failed to make opportunities and Mazzarri also had a new injury worry when Argentine Roberto Pereyra left the pitch with a knee problem. Guardiola’s side seem to have made much-needed progress fixing their defence, and ended still in 4th place in the league, as Watford fell to 11th.

 Outnumbered Potters Hold the Swans: Stoke City 0 – 0 Southampton

The Potters and the Saints held each other to a goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium, in a match that saw the visitors fail to capitalise on their numerical advantage, after Stoke’s Marko Arnautović got sent off in the 23rd minute. Southampton had control of the ball for most of the match, but couldn’t get things together to finish things. Overall, Mark Hughes and the Stoke fans will be disappointed with a lacklustre performance that saw then remain at 12th in the league, while Southampton manager Claude Puel will be frustrated at what could have been, though his side did move up to 9th.

 Tigers Roar but Don’t Bite: Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 0 Hull City

Spurs saw off an energetic Hull at White Hart Lane, with two goals from Danish international Christian Eriksen, and one from Wanyama. The Tigers played well and held their own for a fair part of the match, but the defeat is heavy for a club sitting second-from-bottom of the league. Jake Livermore demonstrated Hull’s spirit, which the hosts failed to dent, with a couple of promising attempts, and boss Mike Phelan will take some solace from his players’ fighting spirit. Still, it comes down to the points, and Spurs were left sitting at 5th, just three points behind Manchester City.

Rondón Creates Some Magic: West Bromwich Albion 3 – 1 Swansea City

The Swans saw a glimmer of hope in the first-half at the Hawthorns, outplaying their hosts for a time, but the second-half was a cruel wake-up for Swansea. The Baggies woke up with gusto and Rondón used his head, literally, to score a hat-trick, with a salvo of goals at the 50’, 61’ and 63’ marks. Late in the match Wayne Routledge did salvage some self-respect for Swansea, but it wasn’t enough to save the day for Bob Bradley’s side, who ended the day still at 18th – in the relegation zone. Tony Pulis can be content that the Baggies demonstrated what they’re capable, of as they climbed to 7th.

 

Main photo: CHEN WS/ Shutterstock.com

The O’s carry momentum into Adams Park encounter

The O’s are up and running under new manager Andy Edwards after last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Accrington Stanley in just his second match in charge.

While we may have profited from the early sending off to Stanley skipper Sean McConville, we did enough to deserve a first home league win since 16 August, and move up a place to 21st in the League Two table. Edwards will just be hoping that more home goals are forthcoming over the festive period.

The result means we will be carrying some momentum into Saturday’s match with in-form Wycombe Wanderers. The Chairboys are currently on a five-match winning run which has taken them from just outside the drop zone in 21st to inside the play-off places in sixth.

They have also maintained the best home defensive record in the league with just seven conceded in nine outings. In fact, only 30% of their 20 league matches have featured over 2.5 goals, which suggests there is value in odds of 1.70 for under 2.5 goals on EnergyBet.

Wycombe will certainly present a difficult challenge, but we have reasons to believe again under the new coaching regime. Gavin Massey was particularly impressive in the victory over Accrington, and let’s not forget we have picked up 15 of our 21 points this season away from Brisbane Road.

If Wycombe think that we will roll over, they could be in for a shock. Before our defeat at Doncaster on November 26th, we hadn’t lost an away league game since September 24th at Notts County.

Taking something from Adams Park would be a great way to lead us into a ‘winnable’ home match with Crawley Town on Boxing Day. You can back the O’s to avoid defeat at 1.69 on EnergyBet.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Wycombe 2.05 | Draw 3.25 | Orient 3.45

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Under 2.5 goals @ 1.70
  • Away Win or Draw @ 1.69

AVFC Gift Wrap Challenge – Round 1

Due to a walkout by the North Pole Elf and Reindeer Workers Union, Santa needs extra help wrapping the presents this year, so we thought we’d see if the Villa players were up to the task.

To find out, EnergyBet put three of Aston Villa FC’s finest through their paces in a festive gift wrapping challenge: watch as striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, defender Alan Hutton and midfielder Ashley Westwood give it their all to wrap a ball, and tackle each other for tape. The results were, well, let’s just say we think they’re best off sticking to football.

Enjoy the hilarious festive action and kudos to Gabriel, Alan and Ashley for being such merry sports.

Premier League – week 15

Saturday 10th – Sunday 11th December 2016

Saturday 10th December

Hornets Sting Everton: Watford 3 – 2 Everton

Everton went into an early lead at Vicarage Road, thanks to Romelu Lukaku making the most of a sweet pass from Gareth Barry, but the Hornets stung back with two goals from Stefano Okaka – his first for the club – in the 36th and 64th minutes. Another, from Austrian Prödl sealed the deal for Watford, though Lukaku did manage another one for the Toffees a few minutes before full-time, to soften the defeat. Watford’s multi-national line-up, consisting of no less than eleven different nationalities, nevertheless showed a decisive cohesiveness that simply outclassed a struggling Everton. Watford climbed to 7th in the table, while Everton fell to 9th.

Gunning for the Top: Arsenal 3 – 1 Stoke City

The Gunners continued their impressive winning streak, beating Stoke at the Emirates Stadium, after coming from behind in the 42nd minute, when Walcott equalised Adam’s earlier 29th minute penalty. Then it was down to Özil and Iwobi to put the home side two ahead by the final whistle. Arsenal had flirted with trouble early on in the game when Xhaka injured Allen with his elbow, leading to the Potter’s opening penalty, and Mustafi was missing through injury, but Bellerin, his replacement, showed his worth, keeping the pressure on Stoke and enabling Walcott’s equaliser. Overall, the Gunners look on top form and were left 1st in the league, while stoke dropped to 10th.

A Break for Burnley: Burnley 3 – 2 Bournemouth

Burnley won a much-needed victory at Turf Moor, as they beat Bournemouth by a single goal. Jeff Hendrick, Burnley’s record signing, found the goal after jut thirteen minutes, and was followed by his Republic of Ireland teammate, Stephen Ward, just three minutes later.  Hendrick’s airborne style and an enthusiastic show by the Clarets meant that, despite boasting just 30% possession, they weren’t seriously challenged until Afobe got a goal just after half-time, and then Charlie Daniel’s racked up another in the first minute of injury time, making the Clarets sweat. Burnley climbed to 13th in, while Bournemouth fell to 11th.

Frustration for Palace: Hull City 3 – 3 Crystal Palace

The visiting Eagles managed to hold the Tigers to a draw, despite the home side taking an early lead thanks to a controversial Snodgrass penalty. Unfortunately for Hull, Snodgrass then gave Palace the opportunity to equalise after he felled Zaha in a challenge, resulting in Benteke landing a penalty. Zaha then gave Palace the lead in the 70th minute, before Dimonande and Livermore quickly, and stylishly, reasserted the Tiger’s lead. The thrills lasted until the end, when Campbell secured a draw with a goal in the 89th minute. Replays confirmed that Snodgrass’s first-half penalty shouldn’t have been awarded, so the result was inevitably frustrating for Palace, though Pardew was understanding of the referee’s difficult angle.

Swans Fly Again: Swansea City 3 – 0 Sunderland

The Swans claimed a valuable victory at the Liberty Stadium, against struggling Sunderland. Swansea manager Bradley had made several changes to the line-up in the wake of the abysmal result against Tottenham, and they seemed to pay off. It was in the second-half of a very wet match that the Swans found their confidence with Sigurdsson netting a penalty, given for Denayer’s handball, and Llorente scoring two goals. The match saw Swansea climb out of the relegation zone, but Sunderland sunk again to the bottom of the league.

Foxes Still Have It: Leicester City 4 – 2 Manchester City

The reigning champions showed they still have what it takes as they pulled of an incredible victory over Manchester City at the King Power Stadium. The victory was, in large part, down to a stunning hat-trick from Jamie Vardy, who had opened the scoring in the 3rd minute, and followed it up in the 20th and 78th. But King had followed Vardy just two minutes later, putting the Foxes two up after just five minutes. It was a flashback to last season’s solid defending and sharp counter-attacking from Leicester, and it was only in the last eight minutes that Kolarov and Nolito managed to salvage something for a shambolic City. Pep Guardiola will need to do some hard thinking, especially about defence, whereas Claudio Ranieri will be looking for a way to keep the momentum up. Leicester climbed to 14th in the league and Man City remained 4th.

Sunday 11th December

Baggies Give the Blues a Hard Time: Chelsea 1 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

It was looking like the Baggies were going to earn a point and hold Chelsea to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge, in a game of determined defence on the part of West Brom. But Diego Costa managed to exploit a mistake by McAuley, and found the back of the net in the 76th minute, giving the Blues a narrow victory. The win – their 9th in a row – moved Chelsea back to the top of the league, but West Brom, remaining at 8th can’t be too hard on themselves given their impressive, and mostly effective effort.

United Finding their Form Again: Manchester United 1 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur

Mourinho’s side looked like they may have been finding their form again, defeating Spurs at Old Trafford. Tottenham enjoyed no shortage of possession, but failed to create chances against a confident United. It was an eventful match for United’s Mkhitaryan, who’s first Premier League goal (also the first Premier League goal by an Armenian) gave them victory, as he was stretchered off with an ankle injury in the final ten minutes. Tottenham remained at 5th and United at 5th in the league.

Boufal Makes His Mark: Southampton 1 – 0 Middlesbrough

Sofiane Boufal gave the Saints victory over Middlesbrough at St. Mary’s Stadium, with his first ever Premier League goal. Boufal, a record signing for Southampton, arrived from Lille in August and Southampton manager Claude Puel must be hoping this is a sign of things to come. Middlesbrough are in serious trouble, with only 13 goals to show for 15 games in the Premier League, and manager Aitor Karanka needs to address Boro’s offensive capability urgently. Southampton climbed to 10th in the table, while Middlesbrough remained down at 16th.

Liverpool’s Loose Defence: Liverpool 2 – 2 West Ham United

Despite being the Premier League’s top goal scorers this season, the Reds managed to get a paltry three shots on target against West Ham at Anfield. It was a tough match, but Liverpool failed to display the focused energy needed to deal with the Hammers decisively. Lallana had put Liverpool ahead after just five minutes, but Payet equalised for West Ham at the 27’mark, before Antonio put the visitors in the lead at 39’. Thanks to a glaring mistake by West Ham keeper Darren Randolph, Origi managed to equalise for the home side at 48’, but neither side could get ahead after that. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will probably be taking a good look at his rear line of defence, including keeper Loris Karius, as it didn’t take a stretch of the mind to imagine the goals they conceded being stopped. West Ham were left just above the relegation zone, while Liverpool remained at number three.

 

Main photo: Oleskandr Osipov / Shutterstock.com

Villa target away day victory against out-of-form Norwich

Aston Villa built up to this week’s match at Norwich by recording a fourth consecutive home victory against a dogged Wigan Athletic side.

Here on EnergyBet we correctly predicted a Villa clean sheet, but were denied our ‘Kodjia anytime’ bet by a key save from 41-year-old keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Instead, it was left to Jack Grealish to steal the show with a stunning strike just two minutes from time.

On Tuesday night, we take on a Canaries side with just one victory from their last eight matches. Whilst we have been climbing towards the promotion places over the last two months, Norwich have been sliding towards mid-table since holding top spot after 12 matches in mid-October.

Norwich manager Alex Neil is clinging on to the job he started in January 2015, and admitted that he ‘got it wrong’ by selecting a team that ‘got bullied’ in the first half at Barnsley. If he fails to get it right against Villa and Huddersfield this week, the Scotsman may not make it to two years at the club.

Villa should be confident of picking up an away win that would see us leapfrog the Canaries in the Championship table. It is time for Bruce to throw off the shackles against a side low on confidence and stick to the system that has been so successful at Villa Park.

The creative Grealish hasn’t started an away league game since the defeat at Preston on 1 October, which might explain why only Ipswich Town have scored fewer goals away from home. In fact, six out of our last seven away matches have returned under 2.5 goals, which is 1.81 on EnergyBet.

Working in tandem with the in-form Jonathan Kodjia, Grealish is the man to take Neil to the brink and put Villa in position for an assault on the play-off positions over the Christmas period.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Norwich 2.35 | Draw 3.30 | Villa 2.85

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.81
  • Away or Draw (Double Chance) @ 1.55
  • Grealish Anytime @ 3.45


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